A Tunnel is a Tunnel?
Q. I WOULD LIKE TO BUY MY GRANDDAUGHTER SOME AGILITY EQUIPMENT. SHE WILL BE 11 YEARS OLD IN FEBRUARY AND HAS BEEN IN AGILITY TRAINING HER DOG CHESSA FOR 2 YEARS. I WANT TO START WITH A TUNNEL. COULD YOU PLEASE TELL ME BETWEEN THE VINYL AND NYLON MATERIAL WHICH WOULD BE BETTER? IF YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS, THEY WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED, AS I AM NEW TO THIS, SO ANY INFORMATION WOULD BE HELPFUL.
A. Hello Nancy, No problem, I’d be glad to answer your question. There are 3 types of tunnels that you can choose from in the world of tunnels:
1. Competition Tunnels
These tunnels are made of a heavy material that is some sort of vinyl, rubber, plastic composite, and have heavy coils to add weight and a strong structure. They have a 24″ diameter, and in AKC rules can be anywhere from 10-20′ in length (15-20 is the most common). They condense down like slinky, but can weigh up to 55 lbs for the longer ones. They are of course more expensive, but are pretty maintenance free and can be left out in any weather without worries. They also don’t roll around as much, though most people saddlebag or brace them to keep them sturdy. For encouraging serious high drive and speed, there is really no comparison to a heavier weight tunnel.
2. Practice Tunnels
For the more budget conscious, practice tunnels are made of nylon, either ripstop or some sort of Dacron that feels like canvas. Affordable Agility’s practice tunnels are made of the sturdier canvas material, which holds up to dog’s claws, and is a good option for people doing general agility training. They can be left out in the rain, and will dry like a canvas tent will dry. But it’s the hot sun (with no moisture) that is probably the worst culprit for them, so if you know that you won’t be using it for an extended period of time in the heat of summer, then its best to bring it in. Also, I advise turning the tunnel in your yard from time to time, so the moisture or mud under it doesn’t rot it out.
The ripstop tunnels that are made of a more flag-like material I am not fond of. I had one once and it blew away and landed on a barbed wire. Forget the idea of ripstop. It ripped up pretty bad. The canvas ones will just last you longer, plain and simple, AND if you are semi-serious in the sport, any extra weight you can get on the tunnel is an advantage for encouraging speed.
Practice Tunnels come in a variety of lengths and diameters. Keep in mind that all dogs have to go through a 24″ diameter in competitions, so bigger dogs have to crouch a little no matter what to get through that. But, if your tunnel is too small, your dog will learn to crouch a little more than is necessary, and it will slow him up a bit. If your dog is naturally fast and you are only backyard training, OR if you have a smaller dog that won’t do much crouching to begin with, you can get away with a diameter less than 24″.
Hope all this helps! If not, any other questions are welcome.
Hugs to your dogs from ours,